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Research project

RamaCam - In situ holographic imaging and chemical spectroscopy for long term scalable analysis of marine particles in deep-sea environments

Project overview

RamaCam aims to prove the concept of combined imaging and chemical analysis to differentiate between particles that cannot easily be told apart and monitor their distribution in the ocean. While particles are thought to play an important role in transporting carbon to the deep, and need to be monitored at scale to understand the impacts of plastics and plumes, they are invisible to most sensors.

RamaCam will leverage μs exposure CMOS and compact spatial heterodynes to develop light-weight, low-power holographic imaging and spectroscopy in a single device. The project will demonstrate to TRL 4 how such a package can be deployed on scalable monitoring platforms such as the Argo float.

This is a collaborative project between the University of Southampton, JAMSTEC, Institute of Industrial Science at the University of Tokyo and the University of Aberdeen. This project is funded by NERC and the JST under the SICORP program, Grant number NE/R01227X/1 Marine sensor proof of concept, 2018 to 2021.


Lead researcher

Professor Blair Thornton

Professor of Marine Autonomy

Research interests

  • Autonomous robotic platforms allow detailed observations to be made over large areas in the ocean. For these systems to be useful, it is necessary to develop advanced sensing capabilities and methods to allow the robots to safely navigate and accurately localize themselves in complex, GPS denied environments. Once observations have been made, it’s necessary to interpret the large volumes of data that are gathered in an efficient and scalable way. For more information on research activities, please visit the Ocean Perception research website.
  • Seafloor 3D visual reconstruction: Development of deep-sea imaging hardware and processing pipelines for calibration, localisation and 3D mapping of the seafloor with full-field uncertainty characterisation.
  • BioCam (NERC NE/P020887/1): Development of a deep-sea, high-altitude seafloor imaging system for monitoring seafloor ecological variables as part of the Oceanids Marine Sensor Capital program. This project is a collaboration with Sonardyne International Ltd, the National Oceanography Centre and the ACFR University of SydneyAT-SEA (NERC NE/T010592/1): 3D visual survey of decommissioned seafloor infrastructure using a shore launched Autonomous Underwater Vehicle (Boaty McBoaface) as part of the INSITE program. This project is a collaboration with the National Oceanography Centre. Automated interpretation of data: Development of AI methods for rapid scalable interpretation of seafloor imagery.
Connect with Blair

Collaborating research institutes, centres and groups

Research outputs